S.Korean Minister Proposes US-N.Korea Tradeoff

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to travel to Pyongyang this weekend to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; setting the stage for a new round of talks regarding both nations' pledged goal of denuclearizing the region.

While in Asia, Pompeo will also visit Japan, South Korea and China, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

Pompeo had previously said last month's inter-Korean summit marked a shift in talks between the USA and North Korea "through the process of rapid denuclearisation of North Korea, to be completed by January 2021, as committed by Chairman Kim, and to construct a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula". Earlier, Trump had postponed Pompeo's trip, citing a lack of progress on denuclearization.

"I think it shows momentum that he is paying his fourth trip", Nauert told reporters.

"Obviously these conversations are going in the right direction, and we feel confident enough to hop on a plane to head there", Nauert said.

"Cheong Wa Dae was optimistic about the visit amid speculation that a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War and other corresponding measures for denuclearization can be discussed".

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After the trip to Pyongyang, Pompeo will head later Sunday to Seoul, where he will meet President Moon Jae-in, a dove who has helped spearhead the reconciliation efforts with North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is distancing himself from a previously stated goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons by the end of President Donald Trump's first term in January 2021. North Korea has placed a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, dismantled parts of weapons testing site, and has pushed for an easing of sanctions before it completely relinquishes its nuclear arsenal. At a campaign rally on Saturday, Trump seemed to signal he was open to the prospect, when he spoke about the "beautiful letters" he had received from the North Korean leader.

North Korea might want to voluntarily dismantle the facilities at its own discretion and open them up for inspection by worldwide experts to verify that it has destroyed them, experts say, while the United States appears to be demanding an inventory of nuclear warheads and facilities first, followed by a broader range of inspections.

Kim, who as leader has rarely travelled outside North Korea, met in June in Singapore with Trump in the first-ever summit between the two countries. He said there was unanimous support for this at last week's U.N. General Assembly, even if Russian Federation and China "had some ideas about how we might begin to think about a time when it would be appropriate to reduce them". "These are possible agreements that I think were made between the two countries prior to Pompeo's visit", he said.

US officials have said the sanctions will remain in place until North Korea has "fully" and "verifiably" denuclearized.

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